An office-based Internet patient education system
A pilot study
Helwig, A. L., Lovelle, A., Guse, C. E., & Gottlieb, M. S. (1999). An office-based Internet patient education system: A pilot study. Journal of Family Practice, 48(2), 123-127.
BACKGROUND: Patients' use of the Internet to find medical information is increasing, and physicians are exploring ways to incorporate the Internet into patient education programs and physician-patient encounters. We performed a pilot study of an Internet patient education system to obtain information on the usefulness of, feasibility of, and patient satisfaction with this type of information.
METHODS: We developed a hypertext Web page directory to patient education sites on the Internet and made it available to patients in a community-based family practice residency clinic during their office visit. During a 1-month period, a medical student assisted patients with using the Internet, answered questions, interviewed patients, and collected data. Information was collected on sites visited, level of assistance required, amount of time spent "surfing" on-line versus intense reading on-line, quality of the experience, perceived usefulness of the educational materials, and patients' satisfaction with the materials.
RESULTS: Fifty patients participated in the study. Forty-seven patients (94%) found the Internet information helpful. Most patients spent their time on-line intensely reading, and men spent significantly more time on-line (P = .007). Thirty-seven patients (77%) stated they would change a health behavior because of information they had read on the Internet; 45 (90%) were more satisfied with their visit than usual, and 46 (92%) would use the Internet center at the clinic again.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients can obtain useful information from moderated Internet patient education systems and may plan to change health behaviors on the basis of that information. Internet patient information in the physician's office can improve patient satisfaction with clinic visits.